Thursday the United States National Team Development Program announced the names of the 53 players who received invitations to participate in the annual Evaluation Camp.
Fifty-three kids – 28 forwards, 19 defenseman, and six goaltenders – with the birth year of 1996 will converge on the Ice Cube in Ann Arbor, MI. March 19-23 for the Camp.
So what are some of the story lines about the kids on the invite list?
First and foremost is the size of the group.
Many of the defensemen invited are over six-feet. Forwards like Blake Clarke (Wildwood, MO,) Ryan MacInnis (St. Louis, MO,) and Paul Bittner (Crookston, MN) are as well, with Bittner standing nearly six-foot-six.
Even the goalies are huge. Chase Perry (Andover, MN) and Logan Halladay (Holly Springs, N.C.) are over six-foot-one while the towering Ed Minney (Wind Gap, PA) stands at a gigantic six-foot-five.
The invite list has representatives of 17 states with Minnesota leading the pack at seven invitees. Virgina, Ohio, Nebraska, Indiana, and New Hampshire each had one player.
Burgeoning hot beds of youth hockey like Wisconsin and Colorado had four players, and sunny California will have three attendees. Fourteen of the invitees have already made college commitments.
There are plenty of hockey bloodlines in this group as well.
MacInnis, of course, is the son of legendary National Hockey League Defenseman Al MacInnis. Chris Wilkie’s (Omaha, NE) father David played 167 games in the NHL.
Shane Gersich (Chaska, MN) is the nephew of Neal Broten, who won gold at the Olympics in 1980 and the Stanley Cup in 1995. Tyler Nanne (Edina, MN) is the grandon of Lou Nanne, former NHL defenseman. Ryan Mantha is the son of Moe Mantha, former NHL defenseman and Windsor Spitfires GM.
Nanne, Luke Davison (DePere, WI), Cooper Watson (Appleton, WI) and Jack Walker (Edina, MN) all have older brothers who are eligible for the 2012 Draft.
There is no doubt that the final version of the roster will be big on the blueline and skilled up front.
How USA Hockey will whittle down that invitation list in order to make the 2012-13 Under-17 team might be the most important storyline of all, because some hard decisions will have to be made.
For the full list of invitees please click HERE